Brave Emily pens guide for kids with epilepsy

Emily Donoghue and her book, Tommy and Rufus Visit the Hospital.
Emily Donoghue and her book, Tommy and Rufus Visit the Hospital.

A young epilepsy sufferer from Belper has written a book which aims to help young children cope with finding out they have the condition.

Emily Donoghue, 21, of Pringle Crescent, has written Tommy and Rufus Visit the Hospital, a picture book aimed at children who are in the process of getting a diagnosis.

Emily Donoghue has been nominated for a Champion Award by Young Epilepsy.

Emily Donoghue has been nominated for a Champion Award by Young Epilepsy.

Emily was diagnosed at the age of ten and now hopes to get the book to as wide an audience as possible so other children know what to expect.

She said: “When I was going through the process of being referred to the hospital and then having scans, I was really confused.

“So I wanted to help other children with the condition understand what is going on in the hospital and inside their heads.

“Some people are affected less and some get it a lot worse - there are 40 known different types of seizures and it effects 600,000 people in the UK.

“Having the condition meant I never had a ‘normal’ childhood - kids at school can be cruel and some used to think I was ‘weird’ - but I’ve never let it hold me back.”

The Royal Derby Hospital, where Emily works as an administrator in medical education, now wants to use the book with young epilepsy sufferers and Emily hopes other hospitals will too.

“The plan at Royal Derby is to have one in the clinic and one in the room where children have their scans,” she said.

“Work have been really supportive - they have given me lots of time to pursue my writing and have been really good in publicising the book.

“I’d also like to get it being used at Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham in their specialist neurology unit and hopefully in many more hospitals too.”

Talking to her in a coffee shop on a break from her hospital job it is clear she is living proof that having a disability need not limit you in any way.

She is active in two national charities - Living Well with Epilepsy and Young Epilepsy - and has been writing a blog and epilepsy product reviews for a number of years as well.

“I have been writing since I was 13,” Emily explains.

“It was my thing really growing up - I used to keep a diary of when I used to have scans - so I still remember very clearly how I felt.

“In my writing I always try to be positive about it and I just want to help other young people who are going through what I went through.”

‘An inspiration to everyone...’

Emily admits to having had a ‘tough year’ last year, but maintained her writing and voluntary work throughout.

As a result of her efforts, she has been shortlisted for the Inspirational Shining Star Champion Award by national charity, Young Epilepsy.

The award celebrates the achievement of a young person aged 20 to 25 who has epilepsy and who is a ‘true inspiration’ to everyone around them.

The ceremony will take place at Shakespeare’s Globe in London on May 18 and Emily confesses to being ‘a bit nervous’.

In the future she says she wants to write more - this time possibly for older children - and continue her work demystifying a disability that can still have a stigma around it.

But despite the important work she does, the thing that shines through the most is how much she enjoys life.

“I have a really good feeling about things at the moment - it is all very exciting,” she says.